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Monday  October 22, 2007

'Macclesfield Social Services are now conducting an inquiry into Miss Gambell's incarceration.'


 Roland Dobbins

We're from the government, and we are here to help you.

Harry Erwin's Letter from England

Not much happening this week.

UK class system stable--


0,,2195632,00.html> <http://tinyurl.com/ywjl35>

Police commander suggests the shooting of Menezes was unintentional--



Times report from the attack on Benazir Bhutto--


article2702829.ece> <http://tinyurl.com/3e2n7x>

Comcast blocking even business file transfers--


notes-update.html> <http://tinyurl.com/3du7gc>

Telegraph commentary on the current government--


2007/10/20/do2003.xml> <http://tinyurl.com/2l84th>




article2697975.ece> <http://tinyurl.com/2g59yg>

Drug treatment programme problems in the UK--


0,,2193952,00.html> <http://tinyurl.com/2238nb>


ndrug118.xml> <http://tinyurl.com/2avygl>


article2702727.ece> <http://tinyurl.com/2t4xnn>

NHS patient satisfaction (poor)--



Archbishop's comments on abortion--



Guardian comment on Watson--



Airport security report--



Problems with the UK banking system--



Knock-on effects of UK proposal to tax non-residents--


article2681663.ece> <http://tinyurl.com/2d5nsa>

The yob problem--this incident blew off my attending an important research meeting on Friday 8((--



"The data (or the marks when teaching) are sacrosanct--they tell us what actually happened." Harry Erwin, PhD http://osiris.sunderland.ac.uk/~cs0her

Not much happening unless you didn't steal half a crown in 1937...

Harry adds Monday Morning:

Noted in passing. This is after the newspapers have been chasing each other's scoops for a day.

Science education programmes in trouble in the UK--


Baikonur story--


Problems with guards in UK prisons--


0,,2196544,00.html> <http://tinyurl.com/2wjbgy>

NASA survey of air safety to remain confidential. When I used to do FAA work, the cockpit crew would set things up to allow me to monitor air traffic communications and cockpit operations from my seat. If a safety incident occurred, they *expected* me to report back to HQ.

There was a landing at San Diego (Lindbergh Field) where the TCAS system went off while I was monitoring--a helicopter had wandered into the flight path. The entire crew was waiting for me as I left the aircraft--


air_safety_secrets> <http://tinyurl.com/2r2xtl>

Effect of US Visa rules. Non-citizens tend to be the target of shakedowns in many countries since they don't vote--


AR2007101902544.html> <http://tinyurl.com/34y6cn>


"The data (or the marks when teaching) are sacrosanct--they tell us

what actually happened." Harry Erwin, PhD



Watson makes humiliating return to US after row over race http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article3078883.ece  By Steve Connor, Science Editor 7.10.20 [Thanks to Sarah for this. Note that Dawkins defends him.]

James Watson, the veteran Nobel scientist who helped to unravel the structure of DNA in 1953, cancelled his book tour in Britain and returned home to the United States yesterday after his research institute suspended him for his comments about the intelligence of Africans.

Cold Spring Harbor Labor-atory in New York said that its board of trustees had decided to suspend Dr Watson from his administrative duties as Chancellor pending further investigations because of Dr Watson's comments, published in a Sunday newspaper in Britain, suggesting that Africans were less intelligent than white westerners.

I'm sorry, I just can't stop laughing at this stuff.

"'Such views are not welcome in a city like London, a diverse city whose very success demonstrates the racist and nonsensical nature of Dr Watson's comments,' [London Mayor Ken Livingstone] said."

Ca. 1991 my local newspaper in east London canvassed readers on the best way to reduce crime in London. A very popular response (which they printed, apparently not getting the point) was: "Shut down the Northern Line."

The Northern Line of the London subway system is the one that goes to Brixton, the city's biggest black ghetto.

Name withheld for obvious reasons.


[NewStatesman] Africa: Race and intelligence

"In an interview with the Sunday Times, scientist James Watson suggested that race determines intelligence. We asked Steven Rose to respond to Dr Watson's claims."


A surprising admission from Rose:

"There are, for example probably genetic as well as environmental reasons why Ethiopians make good marathon runners whereas Nigerians on the whole do not."

The evidence for this isn't qualitatively much different than the evidence for IQ. We have transracial adoption studies for IQ, but not for running.


[Guardian] Disgrace: How a giant of science was brought low

"Nobel Prize winner James Watson has flown home to America with the taunts of his critics ringing in his ears. But should he have been shunned after his explosive remarks on race?"


At least good defenses from Dawkins and Wilson:

"What is ethically wrong is the hounding, by what can only be described as an illiberal and intolerant "thought police", of one of the most distinguished scientists of our time, out of the Science Museum, and maybe out of the laboratory that he has devoted much of his life to, building up a world-class reputation,' said Richard Dawkins, who been due to conduct a public interview with Watson this week in Oxford."

There's something really sad about seeing a great figure so thoroughly crushed over nothing. To work 40 years - an entire lifetime - building the greatest science facility in history, only to have that same facility turn on you so viciously... I wouldn't be surprised if this absurd flood of rejection shaves five years off his life. Maybe stealing back his Nobel bonus years:



And see below.



This week:


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Tuesday,  October 23, 2007

Peers horrified by famed scientist's race remarks

This Watson event is decidedly important. It was even discussed on the 12:00 noon CBS radio news today. The unmentionable is being mentioned, even if largely condemned. Truth can be said to be that which is heard 16 times, so every such event is valuable for science, even if it damages the particular scientist in question. Watson is making a valuable contribution, even if it is not in a scholarly paper.

Louis Andrews Stalking the Wild Taboo



"Whole bunch of folks in India believe that certain kinds of monkeys are actually the personifications of Hanuman <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanuman>  , the monkey god.

In consequence, the locals offer sacrifices to these avatars -- usually in the form of bananas, other fruit, and the like.

Monkeys being monkeys, the little devils have seen a Golden Opportunity and snatched ahold of it with both furry paws.

Apparently, they're running amuck in New Delhi, routinely invading "parliament, ministries, courts and government offices", and, it seems, learning the finer points of politics in the process.

This April, S.S. Bajwa, a member of the political party Bharatiya Janata, was elected as New Delhi's Deputy Mayor. In the past, Bharatiya Janata has been roundly criticized for not doing enough to tame the city's simian situation.

Well, it seems like the monkeys have figured that since there's a war coming, they should probably go proactive.

So, a whole bunch <http://www.nydailynews.com/news/
fighting_off_monkeys_indian_politician_f-4.html>  of them went over to the Deputy Mayors house <http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/10/monkeys-blamed-.html>  and whacked him. <http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7008906872

*scratch, scratch*

Kind of reminds me of Chicago politicking. Or maybe New Orleans. Except cuter.

In light of this terrible occurrence, I have only one two things to say:

1) Can Rhesus macaques <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhesus_Macaque>  survive in Washington, DC; and

2) What would it take to import about two thousand of the furry little darlin's?


I can't really think of much to add to that.




As if living in caves didn't present Islamotroglodytes like OBL with enough headaches, they are soon to be serenaded at their overhead doors with the Mother Of All Heavy Metal Band Props-

Ten tons or so of tungsten, depleted uranium, or tungsten carbide


 -- Russell Seitz



Spengler on why the Turks hate us:



Moderate Islamists. A contradiction in terms, and certainly not one to apply to Kemal's successors.


'Lesleye Holliman, 17, attacked Sharp with a knife while her mother, Yulonda Holliman, 32; grandmother, Annetta Holliman, 60; and cousin Anthony Holliman, 19, held Sharpís party at bay using a variety of weapons, including stun guns, bats, bricks and knives . . .'



-- Roland Dobbins

In these United States of America and this year of grace 2007.

If this were an anomaly, it would be grim enough; but you can find similar stories in every part of the country subject to gang wars.


On World War III:

Roland is overseas. The nature of his work requires him to be on line all the time. He has put together a remarkable selection of related news items:

"In our view, state Chinese interests stand behind these digital attacks."


- Roland Dobbins

Is anyone astonished?


And a related story

Submarine-steered ASAT.


- Roland Dobbins

Space War capability. While the Legions are in Iraq and all the money goes there. We have no X programs. The Chinese clearly do.


Selling out missile defense.


 Roland Dobbins

and on another front

Dragon Stearns.


-- Roland Dobbins

Our strategy is to buy more stuff and borrow more money. Free Trade will prevail.

Perhaps it is working?

China's syndrome of lawless growth.


- Roland Dobbins





This week:


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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Senator Reid: "California wildfires were caused by global warming!"


After a closed door policy meeting with other Senate Democrats, Majority Leader and utter buffoon Harry Reid of Nevada took to the microphones just outside the floor of the United States Senate, and fielded questions.

In response to a question on the energy bill, Reid said the following: "As you know, one reason that we have the fires burning in Southern California is global warming. One reason the Colorado Basin is going dry is because of global warming."

Six questions later, a reporter followed up on Reid's amazing statement. Question: "Senator, on the California fires, you said that the reason the fires are burning in California is global warming?" Reid: "No. Here's what I - I didn't say the reason the fires were burning in Southern California was global warming..."


I have heard this, but I am hardly astonished.


Subject: rhesus in the capital

In light of this terrible occurrence, I have only one two things to say:

1) Can Rhesus macaques <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhesus_Macaque>  survive in Washington, DC; and

2) What would it take to import about two thousand of the furry little darlin's?


I can't really think of much to add to that.


1) Oh, they are tough boogers, they know how to scavenge and tribe together for support (warmth, etc.).

2) Do-able, but, and the but is a big one: as one who worked with rhesus macaques, I can assure you that you don't want even one of those running around. Their vampire-ish teeth are long and sharp, and let's not get into monkey dental hygene. A grip of their fist could break your arm single-handed; they are stronger then human bodybuilders, and I would not believe a man who claimed to have won a wrestling match with a rhesus that was over three weeks old. (As if Momma Monkey would let you near.) On top of all that, nearly all rhesus monkeys are carriers of the Simian Herpes virus, which last time I checked had a fatality rate of ~90% in Homo Sap. It says a lot about the precautions taken that cases occur in the handful per decade range in the U.S.

Lock them in the U.N. Building with timed-release sedative implants, maybe. But don't turn 'em loose on the streets.


-- "It's not NASA's job to send a man to Mars. It's NASA's job to make it possible for the National Geographic Society to send a man to Mars." -- Rand Simberg

I once had to care for a dozen rhesus monkeys at the University of Washington Medical School animal lab. I assure you I want no more contact with them. Still, the notion of a flock of Capitol Hill monkeys is intriguing. After all, the People are no longer free to walk into the People's House. Let a flock of rhesus monkeys take our place.


State Militia -- South Carolina

Dear Jerry,

In your post on the fire (10/23) you mentioned the state militias in Kentucky and Tennessee when you were a boy and asked if any state had something similar.

South Carolina has its state guard, which is something similar. It's all volunteer, but there is a state tax exemption connected with membership. Their web site is at http://www.scsg.org/ 

I don't know of the SC State Guard actually being mobilized -- I may have missed something over the years -- but there do seem to be plans to mobilize it when another hurricane hits the state.

I left South Carolina in January to return to Northern Virginia after a nearly 20 year absence. I'm embarrassed to say that, back in May, I walked right past Larry Niven and you on the Metro. (Serves me right for not keeping up with the review!)

While I'm trying to land some permanent employment, I'm working on turning my thesis ("From the Social Margins to the Center: Lebanese Families Who Arrived in South Carolina before 1950") into a book about Lebanese Christians in the Southeastern U.S. Given current and continuing events, I feel like making a "Remember Sykes-Picot" bumper sticker.

Elizabeth Whitaker
 Alexandria, Virginia


Thought Crime?


Although this story doesn't have a copyright notice on it, the site has © Copyright 2007 OC Weekly LP so I presume the article is covered by that.

While I have zero wish to see these guys on the street, this conviction, which was upheld on appeal, seems based on very little evidence that a crime was committed.

The story also doesn't cover exactly what the parents or guardians of the 12-year-old boy were thinking when they let a paroled pedophile take their son various places.



The Mind of a Pedophile

Two convicted child molesters get another stiff sentence for a crime they thought about committing


Thursday, October 18, 2007 - 3:00 pm

Nobody can predict when and where they'll find love. For Ken Casey and Dale Rumsey, love struck inside Mule Creek State Prison in February 1996.

Other California inmates might have used homosexuality for convenience, but Casey and Rumsey declared themselves "life partners." The men shared a passion for films, participated in the Boy Scouts and agreed to launch an Oakland video-rental business once they'd left prison. Their relationship might have been domestic gay bliss if it hadn't been for, well, an inherent incompatibility issue.

Rumsey, 37, and Casey, 39, are brazen, convicted serial pedophiles. They're also now ugly footnotes in the annals of Orange County criminal history. This month, a state court of appeal based in Santa Ana upheld their convictions related to the production of child pornography and committing lewd acts with children.

So far, so ordinary, right? But there's a twist: Everyone agrees that Rumsey and Casey didn't create kiddie porn or use a child for sex. Police claim the men engaged in mental sex crimes when they chatted about the idea of enticing a 12-year-old Ontario boy, Rumsey's nephew, to strip for a camcorder at a San Diego County nudist beach.<snip>

I am not familiar with this case, but the article, assuming it is correct in details, is disturbing. I had thought that conspiracy to commit a crime required that somewhere alone the line a crime be committed; or at least there be an overt act in furtherance of the crime; and that the act conspired is in fact criminal.


And on the other hand:

"They were saying that we had to be prepared to talk about sexuality with 11-year-olds, which I don't think is appropriate anyway, but not only that, to be prepared to explain how gay people date."


- Roland Dobbins


Surprise! Internet actually a boon for books

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - So much for longstanding predictions that the Internet would crush the book publishing industry with digital readers and online sales of used books.

Penguin publishers said this week that the explosion in online and second-hand retailing has not caused the damage they were expecting and that the Internet has in many ways been a boon for booksellers as a tool for marketing, experimentation and reaching out to the next generation of readers.


Bill Shields


Turkey as a Regional Power.


-- Roland Dobbins


Data-free Empirics


"In short, here is what appears to have happened:

1. Gabaix and Landier make a modelling assumption for purposes of analytic convenience. 2. I describe their model and its implications on this blog. 3. Wessel quotes part of that description in the Journal. 4. Reich reads the Journal and cites me as an authority using the partial quotation. 5. As a result, a modelling assumption morphs into an established fact.

You might call that data-free empirics."

I wonder how often this sort of thing happens, and nobody finds out?


Many times, I would guess. I recall well known social scientists quoting the behavior of the soldiers in Close Encounters of the Third Kind as evidence of how "the military" thinks. The Voodoo Sciences are used to this sort of thing.


Subj: Finding the winners among the losers


>>[I]n addition to training everyone on how to survive convoy duty in hostile territory, the current war has also spurred more research on what it takes to be an exceptional soldier. Interestingly enough, this line of research is very popular in the business and academic world. Colleges have increasingly been looking for tools, besides SAT scores, to determine who would benefit most from a college education. Itís long been known that some college students start off tagged as poor prospects, but then go on to do great work. Same thing in business, where employers are seeking better tools to find the hidden hot shots. ...<<

Rod Montgomery==monty@starfief.com






CURRENT VIEW    Wednesday


This week:


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Thursday, October 25, 2007


""All Hands to General Quarters"

By Bull Nav <http://op-for.com/2007/10/.html

So spoke CDR Ernest Evans, Commanding Officer of the USS JOHNSTON (DD557), as Kurita's Center Force bore down on TAFFYIII.

He continued:

Prepare to attack major portion of the Japanese fleet. All engines ahead flank. Commence making smoke and stand by for a torpedo attack. Left full rudder.

And thus the CO and crew headed off into history and doom in the few short hours they had left. On his own initiative, before being ordered to do so, CDR Evans drove his ship towards the overwhelming Japanese force to defend the 6 jeep carriers he was escorting.

Sixty-three years ago today.

Five ships of 13 in TAFFY III lost. Over 1000 men killed.

Yet, the superior Japanese force which could have easily crushed them and then went on to slaughter the invasion force in Leyte Gulf turned around and ran.

After all was said and done, 1 PUC, 1 MOH, 29 Navy Crosses, 2 Silver Stars, and 2 Bronze Stars were awarded.

The story of the Battle Off Samar is well chronicled in James Hornfischer's Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors <http://www.jameshornfischer.com/laststand>  .

Additionally, you can find more information at The Battle Off Samar website <http://www.bosamar.com/>  ."

The entire US force was outmassed by any of the Japanese battleships in the engagement. The Imperial Japanese Navy recorded engaging cruisers and fleet carriers as the destroyers and destroyer escorts savagely fought back in one of the more gallant actions in the history of the United States Navy.

I'm told the dining facility at Annapolis has a sign quoting "Don't give up the ship!" I once read an editorial in the Times of London from the Napoleonic Wars. The editor felt pride and joy whenever he heard they'd declared war on another country, for he knew he could expect to begin covering a stirring string of naval victories. Except when fighting those damned Yankees, who take this sort of thing far too seriously. That's what I think we should have over the dining facility, a quote from an enemy saying it is just no fun to fight the US. It is a pity our enemies watch our news, instead of reading our history. We could all be saved much blood and treasure.


for I intend to take her in harm's way...


Watson pays the price.


-- Roland Dobbins

But we value science over politics, don't we? Free inquiry, and all that, so long as you get the right answers.

Note that Watson's real crime was pointing out the obvious: if you believe in evolution, then there is absolutely no necessity for geographically isolated groups of animals, including homo sapiens, to evolve in the same directions; or for the groups to have equal intelligence.

It has long been thought that adaptation to cold (which requires  fire making, use of skins as clothing and thus sewing needles, food storage and deferred rewards, etc.) will force evolution of intelligence faster than tropical climates. Jarred Diamond has tried to counter this with his own theories, but it is not generally accepted that he has done so. But whether the "cold makes you evolve smarter" hypothesis holds or not, it is self evident that Watsons statement -- an observation, really -- that geographically isolated groups will evolve differently is true.

It is interesting: in the name of Science, the Kansas school board attempt to have Intelligent Design taught along with evolution was suppressed; but in the name of Equality, a self-evident consequence of evolution earns a major scientist a lesson in humiliation.

The consequences of wide disparities in intelligence among a population are severe. It should be obvious to almost anyone that the educational techniques appropriate for a group of bright normal and above -- say IQ 115 and up -- will be entirely different from those appropriate for dull normal and below -- say IQ 85 and down. This remains true if you make the cutoffs at 90 and 110, or 90 and 115. The cutoff points are not obvious; but that different techniques will work better with each group is hardly to be doubted.

The lower the IQ, the more need for skill training. Everyone can learn to read, but the bright kids will learn more quickly, and catch on to the whole notion of reading, much faster than the dull ones. Still, the same techniques work with both: a combination of drills and exercises (see Roberta Pournelle's work on this) can be used in First Grade with everyone, provided that it is understood that some children will romp through the 70 or so lessons much faster than others.

Everyone can and should learn the addition and multiplication tables, and these too are best taught through drills.

Beyond that, though, the IQ differences make it imperative to adopt different methods for the roughly 3 intelligence groups. While teaching something about number bases and groups and other aspects of "the new math" make sense when taught to bright normal and above, using that instruction technique for normals will not be successful, and using it for dull normal and below is simply insane -- or part of a plot to make sure the dull normal and below population learns no math skills whatever.

John Dewey's "progressive education" methods can be extremely effective with bright children, but again trying to get dull normal and below kids to learn by discovery and inductive reasoning is simply insane -- and it's not the best way to teach the vast majority of kids, either.

Treating bright kids as if they were dull -- the only way that No Child Left Behind can work -- wastes their talents and makes those we will depend on to keep our First World Civilization going hate school and learning; and will hardly challenge them.

Enough. I have done this diatribe before.

The problem, of course, is that if we do sort kids into three broad educational groups and treat each group differently, the three groups will not be racially identical. And since equality is more important than applying the most appropriate education technique to each kid, the result is what Beam Piper used to call decivilization. We are running this experiment now.

"If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightly consider it an act of war."  Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman, National Commission on Education. The report was finished in 1983. Most are agreed that the education system was better in 1983 than today.


'At Scribd we'll either all get rich or we all won't, and you'll participate in that.'


- Roland Dobbins

The next Big Thing?


Zimbabwe Hits Bottom.


-- Roland Dobbins

Lamented, but no long unexpected. Zimbabwe can no longer sustain even a Third World civilization.




-- Roland Dobbins

nonsense on stilts...


And once again reality:

A San Francisco liberal's brush with reality.


---- Roland Dobbins

Will we be able to maintain a First World civilization with our present system of education?

"If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightly consider it an act of war."  Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman, National Commission on Education. The report was finished in 1983. Most are agreed that the education system was better in 1983 than today.

It is probably better in 2007 than it will be in 2o17 although by 2017 we will probably spend double what we spend today to achieve that result.

Will we be able to maintain a First World Civilization with our present system of education?

Or have we sown the wind?


'Many years ago we understood that civilization was a prerequisite for healthy government.'


- Roland Dobbins






CURRENT VIEW    Thursday


This week:


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Friday, October 26, 2007

The EFF has come out strongly for Sun in a rather confused case.

http://www.softwarefreedom.org/news/2007/oct/25/zfs/ <http://www.softwarefreedom.org/news/2007/oct/25/zfs/

Apparently Sun (or any corporation other than MS) can invoke the full support of the EFF by uttering the mantra "open source", and abscond with someone elses intellectual property.

The NetApp side of the story (prominently not linked by the EFF) paints a rather different side to the story. Apparently, Sun brought out the patent club first, and started bashing NetApp with it, if the NetApp CEO is to be believed.

http://blogs.netapp.com/dave/2007/10/sun-sues-netapp.html <http://blogs.netapp.com/dave/2007/10/sun-sues-netapp.html

Sun seems to think that extortion by threat of litigation is a viable business model, and uses it to protect a technologically bankrupt corporation.

Money quote from NetApp: "One of the most important rules of open source is that you must only give away things that belong to you. If protected information does leak into open source, it will probably live forever in the web, but that isn't the issue. To me, the issue is that large corporations should stop making a profit on protected information that doesn't belong to them. That's what we're asking here."

Chris C


Something every SF author needs.


-- Roland Dobbins


Battle Off Samar

Jerry Thank you for posting this reminder that small ships with brave men can make a difference. When I was in the Navy in the late 50s our ships Captain used this action as an example of how those who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the benefit of others was the difference between slaves and free men. I admire those who will stand up and make a difference because they keep the light of freedom shining for all those who are able to see and understand it.

-- James Early
 Long Beach, CA




This week:


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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Red-headed Neanderthals? DNA says yes: study 


Some of your less than polite critics have called you a "political neanderthall". Golly gosh wow, , now we discover some of the real neanderthals had red hair too...

I'll see myself out.


"Some of our cave-dwelling Neanderthal relatives probably had red hair and fair complexions, much like modern-day humans of Celtic origin, according to a study released Thursday."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071025/sc_afp/scienceneanderthalsus_071025183936 <http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071025/sc_afp/scienceneanderthalsus_071025183936


Space Opera 

It appears Walter Jon Williams ("Dread Empire 's Fall" series) agrees with you RE: "Space Opera":

http://www.locusmag.com/2007/Issue10_Williams.html <http://www.locusmag.com/2007/Issue10_Williams.html

 "ďAll the great metaphors for science fiction make up the elements of space opera. I think there's something about the subgenre that's vital to the core of our field. Space exploration and contact with aliens, problems of governance, the future evolution of our species... all that can be in space opera, and it can all come crashing in with a great deal of fun attached."





CURRENT VIEW     Saturday

This week:


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Sunday, October 28, 2007      

I have taken the day off.









The current page will always have the name currentmail.html and may be bookmarked. For previous weeks, go to the MAIL HOME PAGE.


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